July 17, 2023 3 min read

Snoring is a common problem, with an estimated 49% of all adults snoring occasionally [1]. While most know that snoring can be annoying for bed partners and embarrassing for the offending party, could this common habit also be bad for your health?

The answer is that it depends. Occasional and mild snoring is usually harmless, but loud and frequent snoring is one of the first signs of sleep apnea — a serious sleep-related breathing disorder. To learn more about snoring and its dangers, keep reading. 

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep caused by vibration of soft tissues making up your upper airway. It usually happens when there is something obstructing normal airflow, like a stuffy nose, enlarged tonsils, relaxed airway muscles, or excess neck fat, for example. 

 

Snoring also comes on a spectrum: it can be mild and barely noticeable or it can be so noisy that it disrupts sleep for anyone in the snorer’s vicinity. Snoring can also be an occasional annoyance or it can progress into a daily habit. 

Is Snoring Bad for Your Health?

Simple snoring that is occasional and/or mild is considered harmless [2]. There’s no evidence that this type of snoring disturbs sleep or causes any other health problems. One fairly study even carefully evaluated whether simple snoring had any effect on sleep architecture and daytime sleepiness, concluding that it didn’t [3]. 

 

However, loud and frequent snoring that is accompanied by other symptoms can be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses lead to a drop in blood oxygen levels and result in frequent waking. Sufferers have seriously fragmented sleep as a result. When your snoring is due to untreated sleep apnea, you are at a much greater risk of [4]: 

 

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke and heart attack 
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Early death

How to Treat Snoring

While usually harmless, simple snoring can be annoying and disruptive to others’ sleep. Heavy snoring can even progress to sleep apnea, according to some studies [5]. And if due to sleep apnea, snoring can be bad for you. For all these and other reasons, you may need to address your snoring problem.

Simple snoring can be treated conservatively by switching to a side sleeping position, losing weight, and avoiding alcohol before bedtime [6]. However, these measures take time and practice to work. An easier solution is using oral appliances like theGood Morning Snore Solution that prevent upper airway collapse as you sleep.

However, if you suspect you might have sleep apnea, speaking to your doctor is the first step to getting appropriate treatment for this serious condition. While this condition can be managed conservatively in some cases, most sufferers need continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to avoid health complications. 

 

References: 

 

  1. Park JG. Snoring. Encyclopedia of Sleep 2013: 265-268.  

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780123786104003193

 

  1. Yap YY. Evaluation and Management of Snoring.Sleep Med Clin. 2022;17(1):25-39.doi:10.1016/j.jsmc.2021.10.010

 

  1. Macarthur KE, Bradley TD, Ryan CM, Alshaer H. Dissociation between objectively quantified snoring and sleep quality.Am J Otolaryngol. 2020;41(1):102283.doi:10.1016/j.amjoto.2019.102283

 

  1. Jordan AS, McSharry DG, Malhotra A. Adult obstructive sleep apnoea.Lancet. 2014;383(9918):736-747.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60734-5

 

  1. Friberg D. Heavy snorer's disease: a progressive local neuropathy.Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):925-933.doi:10.1080/00016489950180306

 

  1. Rowley JA, Badr MS, F Eichler A. Snoring in adults. UpToDate. Last updated Jan 06, 2023.

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/snoring-in-adults#:~:text=Habitual%20snoring%20is%20common%2C%20occurring,is%20almost%20universal%20%5B2%5D.



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